Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

I’ve got three personas now; a mother, a wife and me.

They’re competing a lot of the time. And in limited time. It’s a constant balancing act to let all three of me out, and decide who is most important. But I’ve come up with a ranking.

Samantha Sutherland

Number One – Me, Myself and I

You know how on airplanes they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping those around you? The same applies in life.

You can only love others as much as you love yourself, so if you don’t look after yourself, you can’t look after others.

For me this shows up in a few ways;

I need to get enough sleep. Without the sleep, I can’t function and I feel like all the love I have dries right up until I catch up on the sleep. So at night when the little dude wakes, I’m in and out as quickly as possible. He already knows that the middle of the night is not a time to try to play. I embrace the early nights now, and at least once a week I’m in bed in the 7’s, which means I can be out in the 12’s on other nights. But without the 7’s, there are no 12’s. And there are more tears.

I need to eat right. You know how when you’re tired, you eat crap, and that makes you more tired so you end up in a viscious cycle where you don’t love your body and you have no energy. Yeah me too, and that doesn’t serve me well. So I need to spend time and energy planning meals and cooking well.

I need to LIVE! You know those mums who love the idea of giving everything up to be the apple of their kidlet’s eye? That’s not me. Not by a long way. The honest truth of it is that although I love my bambino and I have beautiful moments of connection with him every day, there are also boring, tiring, frustrating times every day, and the cleaning is relentless and completely mind-numbingly dull. It reeeeeeeally winds me up when people say ‘it’s so worth it’. It’s not for me, I need more stimulation that I get from him these days. So I get out every day and see friends, exercise, horse ride, explore.

Meditation. If I’m honest this is a sometimes activity, but I try and it helps when I do it.

Energy work. This is a biggie at the moment, and getting a lot of focus while I try to reconcile with my new life. Sam v2.0 is emerging but it’s taking some work!

Number Two – Happy Wife, Happy Life

The second ranking is as a wife. Without the relationship that started this family there’s surely no point to it all. I think a happy, loving, safe adult relationship model is a wonderful thing to give to your kids. More than that, though, I always said it was more important to me WHO I had kids with than whether I had kids at all. So that relationship has to be maintained.

We walk out for dinner once a week or so, and take the little dude with us while he’s small enough to sleep in the pram. We go out without the little guy together once every week or two, using a babysitter or ever-generous granny. And we have family time on the weekends where we get out of the house and explore together.

You know what they say – the family that plays together, stays together.

Number Three – Mother Goose

I love my little guy, but I can’t put him above all the other needs in my life or I’ll resent him, and that’s no good for anyone.

I do love the special moments of connection we have every day, and making him laugh (I spend a lot of time chasing the laugh!!). But anyone who doesn’t admit that being at home is also hard, and irritating, and lonely, and full of other mundane tasks that I never liked before (seriously, how many loads of washing can one family of three need!?) is either a liar, or a very different honest human to me.

So there we have it.

I have to be the most important person in my life, as when I don’t love myself, I don’t treat those I love, with love.

My relationship is what started this whole big adventure of having a family, so if the two founding members aren’t all loved up and happy together, then there is no glue.

I love the little guy, and putting him third isn’t proof that I don’t. It’s proof that I love him enough to look after his mum.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments, and if you know anyone who might be struggling with the triad of titles, please share this with them.

Xx Sam

 

 

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26 Comments on Put on Your Own Oxygen Mask First

  1. SocialNicole
    April 3, 2014 at 6:12 AM (4 years ago)

    This is a great post – I like your approach and your thinking when it comes to being a happy and healthy person. I agree that in order to love others you need to love yourself first and taking care of yourself is a great way to show that love to oneself. I am glad to see so many people are commenting and reading this as it’s a great reflection on self love and happiness. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • samantha
      April 3, 2014 at 11:42 AM (4 years ago)

      Thanks so much for the lovely feedback Nicole!
      I agree, I’m so glad that this is resonating with so many people – hopefully it means there is starting to be a shift in how mothers feel they can approach their own self care.
      xx

      Reply
  2. nichole
    April 1, 2014 at 1:14 AM (4 years ago)

    Great post Samantha!
    I struggle with finding balance in my life and your post could not come to me at a better time.
    Thank you for sharing <3

    Reply
    • samantha
      April 1, 2014 at 7:34 AM (4 years ago)

      I’m so glad it helped Nichole!
      I’d love to hear what you do to look after yourself, it’s always great to hear how other women manage everything. xx

      Reply
  3. Camesha
    March 28, 2014 at 2:51 PM (4 years ago)

    All very true. I’m at home with my two kids and it’s a great adventure. I’ve learned that I need time to be me. I’ve learned how important that is and how vital it is that my husband and I get out alone and actually get to talk, uninterrupted.

    Rocking these three titles isn’t easy but it’s possible. 🙂

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 28, 2014 at 3:47 PM (4 years ago)

      So true Camesha – time as a couple, uninterrupted and also not talking about the kids, is vital. xx

      Reply
  4. claire
    March 28, 2014 at 5:35 AM (4 years ago)

    Great reminders! It’s only when our cups are full that we can really be present for others.

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 28, 2014 at 7:09 AM (4 years ago)

      that’s the perfect expression for it Claire. We need to keep our cups full. xx

      Reply
  5. Krystal Bernier
    March 27, 2014 at 1:56 PM (4 years ago)

    You are so right. I am going to remember this for when my little one is born. I rarely put myself first.

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 27, 2014 at 3:07 PM (4 years ago)

      And it’s so important!!
      Good luck with the kidlet, let me know how it’s going! xx

      Reply
  6. Emma
    March 27, 2014 at 7:17 AM (4 years ago)

    I struggle with this concept on a regular basis. One of my ongoing strategies for putting myself first is yoga. It is one of the best ways for me to check in with myself and grasp what I really need. Thanks for this post, I always need a reminder to take care of myself.

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 27, 2014 at 3:05 PM (4 years ago)

      I love yoga as well, it’s a wonderful moving meditation.
      Look after yourself!
      xxx

      Reply
  7. Anne Omland
    March 27, 2014 at 6:24 AM (4 years ago)

    Beautiful article, Sammy! I love the way you write- I can hear you talking. This is such an honest way to articulate what so many moms feel, I’m sure. I think you’re right- without self care, what’s it all for? xo

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 27, 2014 at 3:06 PM (4 years ago)

      Thanks Anne!! So glad you like it.
      And yep, I think that applies to life in general – if it’s all slog and no play, why are we doing it?
      xx

      Reply
  8. Clare
    March 27, 2014 at 2:36 AM (4 years ago)

    Well said Sam! I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I gear up for maternity leave number two — I need to find a better routine so that I can enjoy the good parts and not become overwhelmed by the rest.

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 27, 2014 at 3:06 PM (4 years ago)

      Yes!! Good luck with bambino numero 2, and try to find time in the small moments to look after yourself.
      xxx

      Reply
  9. Rena
    March 26, 2014 at 12:53 PM (4 years ago)

    Awesome article. Wish It had been written 20 yrs ago when I had my first. I am just finding myself again.

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 26, 2014 at 1:17 PM (4 years ago)

      Thanks for the feedback Rena. It’s never too late – at least you ARE finding yourself again now! xxx

      Reply
  10. Leanne Chesser
    March 26, 2014 at 12:02 PM (4 years ago)

    It’s so awesome that you know the importance of “putting your own oxygen mask on first.” When we care for ourselves, we’re much more able to care for others and be all we can be in our various roles.

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 26, 2014 at 1:17 PM (4 years ago)

      Totally Leanne! It’s so important to maintain ourselves so we CAN perform in all our roles.
      xx

      Reply
  11. Pam Pearson
    March 26, 2014 at 10:34 AM (4 years ago)

    You provide great wisdom and your energy seems balanced and calm. Congratulations! I feel you’ve done a good job of maintaining your identify in all the different personas. Thank you for sharing your experiences to help bring me new perspectives!

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 26, 2014 at 10:39 AM (4 years ago)

      Thanks Pam! I think I’ve only got balanced energy since I started looking after myself 😉
      xx

      Reply
  12. lily
    March 26, 2014 at 10:15 AM (4 years ago)

    I so agree that you have to take care of yourself first, so you can better take care of others. 🙂

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 26, 2014 at 10:20 AM (4 years ago)

      Definitely Lily!
      And it applies whether you have children or not! x

      Reply
  13. Rae
    March 26, 2014 at 8:52 AM (4 years ago)

    What a refreshing perspective. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • samantha
      March 26, 2014 at 9:33 AM (4 years ago)

      Thanks Rae, glad you liked it! xx

      Reply

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